There’s been a long-running (and completely justified) narrative in pop entertainment that Marvel has done a poor job of representing the LGBT community.
Yes, they took a few small steps in the right direction with Jessica Jones. In fact, that Netflix series was home to a number of firsts for Marvel, which included a lesbian relationship depicted on screen. But while that does represent at least a small degree of open-mindedness on the part of the Marvel creative teams, it doesn’t go far enough. People want to see a member of the LGBT community leading the way in a superhero project.
Right now there’s still no evidence that this will be happening any time soon— at least not in cinema. However, this fall did bring about some encouraging news related to this discussion. Marvel is working on two new comic series with LGBT leads. Here’s a bit on who those characters are and what we can expect from them.
The better known of the two coming comic leads is Iceman (or Bobby Drake), who has long been a member of the X-Men. As one piece reports, “Iceman #1” is coming in the spring of 2017, and will help to launch the “ResurreXion” storyline. Iceman came out in 2012 in an issue of “All-New X-Men,” but has yet to star as the lead superhero in his own comic book. That said, he’s actually more familiar to modern audiences than many other characters who could have been chosen to break down this particular barrier.
That’s because he’s appeared in a few of the X-Men movies by 20th Century Fox, where he was played by Shawn Ashmore. However, partly because he didn’t even come out in the comics until 2012, the films haven’t really delved into the LGBT nature of the character—and he’s also been something of a fringe X-Men hero. The likes of Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, and Jennifer Lawrence (among others) tend to hog the spotlight. Iceman has even had trouble making it into some of the spin-off material from these films. This gaming site hosts multiple slot reels and games with X-Men themes that incorporate characters from across the Fox films. But even there, where the likes of Juggernaut and X-23 pop up on spinning slot wheels, there’s no Iceman to be found. This situation is similar in a few other X-men games as well.
Because he’s been something of a bench player in films (and comics), we don’t really know what to expect moving forward. Thankfully, it’s beginning to sound as if “ResurreXion” could be something of a new beginning for the X-Men following their prolonged conflict with the Inhumans. That could place Iceman in an unusually prominent position, and theoretically lines him up for future inclusion in a more meaningful role for an upcoming film.
A somewhat lesser known character, Miss America is also getting her own comic book moving forward. But though more fans probably know Iceman than America Chavez, this comic has the potential to be the more impactful one moving forward. That’s because Chavez is also of Latin-American descent, and an article claims that the comic will simply be titled “America #1.” In a time of severe tension related to diversity in the United States, publishing a comic called “America” with a queer Latina woman on the cover is actually a fairly courageous move for Marvel.
We don’t know a whole lot about what this series will look like. But Chavez herself is almost like a sort of Superwoman. She hails from another dimension and has the power to fly, super strength, and Luke Cage-like bulletproof skin. For someone a lot of casual comic fans aren’t particularly familiar with, she’s kind of a powerhouse.
While Iceman would seem to have a natural way forward in film given what we’ve seen of the X-Men franchise, it’s a little harder to guess if or how Chavez could be introduced to the MCU. That said, one report shows that casting excitement has already hit the internet, with fans calling for Jane The Virgin star Gina Rodriguez to land the role. That likely means nothing at this point, but perhaps we’ll see Chavez on the big screen sooner than we expect.